Virginity is a Damaging Construct

Written by Cassity Morlan, Contributor

  Sex positivity has aimed to change social attitudes around pleasure and sexuality. Sex is a natural and healthy part of life. Virginity is often thought of in context to one’s first sexual experience, it has defined many individuals’ sex lives. The choice of whether to be sexually active or not is entirely one’s decision make, and sex positivity emphasizes the importance of choice. 

  In order to fully be sex positive, it is important to start with comprehending virginity as a concept. Virginity is often the start of how we were taught to think about sex, which can be really damaging. As a definition, virginity is the cultural and conceptual state of never having engaged in sexual intercourse. Let’s challenge virginity by deconstructing the what the term represents and rejecting it in our personal sexual lives.

  Virginity is exclusively heteronormative because it primarily focuses on male/female penetrative sex. This invalidates any sex that does not adhere to the strict definition, excluding LGBTQ+ sexualities and relationships. Virginity also assumes no sexuality or sexual expression. The cultural view of virginity praises purity and shames those who are sexually active. How you define virginity and sex is completely your choice, but it is also okay to not adhere to the concept of virginity at all. 

  Virginity is damaging. It is seen as a social norm and means of controlling parts of society for both women and men, while pushing the gender binary further. Women and men experience and define virginity differently. It has created unequal roles for partners who have different sexual histories and experiences. For women, virginity is seen as a gift, where they have often experienced stereotypes placed on their status of virginity. Further stigmas have developed with the idea of body counts, which creates the stereotypes that women lose value when they are sexually active.

  There is also the myth of the hymen, which is not an accurate indicator of anyone’s sexual status, because it is a membrane that can stretch and move with pressure put on it, including penetrative sex (and it can sustain tears). These myths have perpetrated violence through medical procedures such as the virginity test, which rapper T.I. has openly stated he makes his daughters undergo regularly. 

  Virginity is also destructive to men’s sexualities because it has created a cultural sense of a rite of passage where masculinity is defined by sexual experiences. There is also a shaming of virgins that has often silenced the voices of men who have been sexually assaulted. Media has glamourized men’s sexual activity, perpetuating this cultural view. 

  It is clear that the concept of virginity detaches the decisions we make about sex because it connects sexuality and shame. Sex should not be defined by the old-fashioned patriarchal views and societal standard. Rather than using the term ‘virginity’ in reference to people’s sex lives, use ‘sexually active.’ Define what sex means and looks like to you in order to have healthy connections with your body.